Talented kart racer Jacob Stilp (Northampton) will make his car racing debut in next month’s Michelin Clio Cup Road Series ‘Autumn Cup’ event after winning a fully-funded prize drive during the annual Henry Surtees Challenge at Buckmore Park on Wednesday, 23rd October.
The 17-year-old, who has been out of action for the best part of a year after being diagnosed with diabetes, is the latest member of the Stilp family to progress into Renault Clios – his father, Daniel, competed in the national Renault UK Clio Cup in 2002 and Jacob’s uncle, Jordan, stepped into the headline category this season.
As ever, this year’s Henry Surtees Challenge was a superb event with the cream of British motor racing’s best young talent battling on track in identical Club 100 Birel karts for a range of sensational prizes – all in aid of charity in memory of the late son of 1964 Formula One World Champion, and four-time 500cc Motorcycling World Champion, John Surtees OBE.
“It was the prize I had my eye on”, said Stilp Jnr, “I really wanted it and it's fantastic that I won it, I can't wait to get my ARDS licence and to then test the Clio for the first time. I’ve only just started taking lessons for my road licence, so driving a car is very new to me. I can’t wait to get out there in the Clio – it’s a great prize and a really fantastic opportunity.”
Renault UK Communications Director Jeremy Townsend, who presented Jacob with his prize at Buckmore Park, added: “It’s been an absolute pleasure helping to support the Henry Surtees Challenge this year, John Surtees and his team organised a fantastic event which really was a credit to everyone involved.
“We’re delighted for Jacob on his prize win and really looking forward to seeing him in action in the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series. It’s the ideal entry point into saloon car racing for young karters and we’re sure Jacob will thoroughly enjoy his prize of a fully-funded drive in the Autumn Cup.”
After establishing a very promising karting career, where he was a front-runner in BRDC Stars of Tomorrow MiniMax in 2008 before enjoying success in KF3 in Formula Kart Stars and Super 1 over the next couple of seasons, as Stilp prepared to make the leap onto the European stage this year he was diagnosed with diabetes on the day of his 17th birthday back in February.
Aside from the health implications, most frustrating for the Northamptonshire teenager was the fact he had just secured vital sponsorship for his European karting graduation. Forced to sit on the racing sidelines over the subsequent months, the diagnosis scuppered his immediate plans but after getting his racing licence back several weeks ago, Stilp showed he had lost none of his ability.
“We’d picked up a very good sponsor for European karting, we’d done all of the pre-season testing and were just about to head off for the first official test when Jacob was diagnosed on his birthday with diabetes”, explained his father, Daniel.
“He lost his licence for six months, so all of the plans had to change, but in his first race back in karts at a club event at Whilton Mill he was fourth and set fastest lap. He’d only done the one race before the Henry Surtees Challenge and then he stuck it on pole there on Wednesday against some top, champion karters – I was quite astonished.”
He added: “We’ve had some good support and Paul O’Neill [British Touring Car Championship racer and ITV pundit] has been really helpful. He suffers with diabetes and knows what Jacob has to do with his medication. Paul knows the challenges and told us he’s always at the end of the phone which is really nice.
“I really think the Clio Cup Series will be very popular next year, you’ve got to be realistic – especially in the current climate – and this championship has got sensible budgets and is a great way to begin learning in a great car. Jacob went to bed on Wednesday night grinning like a Cheshire Cat, he’s so happy to have won the prize!”
Stilp’s maiden shakedown in the Monster Sport Europe race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 roadcar he will race in the Autumn Cup at Rockingham over the weekend 16th/17th November is set to take place next week.
As well as winning a fully-funded drive, Stilp also receives free Pilot Sport 3 tyres for the race meeting and for pre-event testing from official tyre partner Michelin. Safety Devices has also supported the prize drive by providing a roll cage free-of-charge.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Safety Devices, Mark Fish Motorsport, The Lubricant Consultancy and NGK Spark Plugs.